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February 27 2014

Savory Momos, Sweet Sel Roti and 5 Other Delicious Nepali Delicacies

Nepal, a land of diverse culture and tradition, has its own unique dishes that leave the taste buds craving for more. The delicacies presented here have been selected from hundreds of mouth-watering recipes originating from the high mountains to the Nepalese plains.

1. Sel roti

The famous Nepali crispy doughnut (sel roti), a must during the Tihar or Deepawali festival, is prepared from rice flour.

See NepaliMom’s instructions to cook the doughnuts:

2. Gundruk

Gundruk, a popular dish among Nepalis, is prepared by fermenting and drying leafy vegetables, namely mustard and radish leaves. The blog Nepali Local Food explains how to cook gundruk ko jhol (soup).

Gundruk ko jhol (soup)
Serves 6 to 8
Gundruk/Sinki 50 g
Onion 1 chopped
Tomato 1 chopped
Dry red chili 2 pods
Turmeric powder 1/2 Tablespoon
Salt 1 Teaspoon
Method: Soak Gundruk/Sinki in water for 10 min. Heat oil and fry chopped onions, tomatoes, chilies. Drain up soaked Gundruk/Sinki and fry, add turmeric powder and salt, and put 2 cups of water. Boil for 10 min, and serve hot with cooked rice.

3. Momo

A typical serving of a plate of Momo with Sesame Yellow Sauce and Red Ginger Chilli Sauce in Nepal. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Kushal Gayal. CC BY-SA

A typical serving of momo with sesame yellow sauce and red ginger chilli sauce in Nepal. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Kushal Gayal. CC BY-SA

Momo, a type of Tibetan dumpling, is so popular among Nepalis that it could be considered the country's top dish. The ubiquitous restaurants selling the dumplings generally stuff it with minced buffalo meat, chicken, mutton or vegetables.

Check out the step-by-step momo cooking guide in the Taste of Nepal blog. Or watch a YouTube video posted by Pucca syanu showing how to cook them:


4. Chhoila

Chhoila, a favourite dish among the Newars of Kathmandu Valley, has become popular throughout the country. Generally made from buffalo meat, the burnt version called “haku chhoila” (black chhoila) is very tasty. Check the We All Nepali blog for details of cooking chicken chhoila.

Watch Babus Cooking demonstrating chhoila preparation:

5. Chatamari

Chatamari, also called Nepali pizza, is a kind of rice crepe made famous by the Newars of Kathmandu Valley. The blog We All Nepali offers details on how to prepare it.

See how chatamari is made in this YouTube video by Marc Wiens:

6. Bagiya

Bagiya is a healthy and delicious dish made from rice flour savoured especially during the Deepawali festival in eastern Terai of Nepal. It is a special to the indigenous Tharus. While Tharus in eastern Nepal prefer flat bagiya with lentils, the Tharus in western Nepal prepare bagiya in a tubular shape without lentils, explains the blog Voice of Tharus.

Learn how to make it via Voice of Tharus:

Soak the rice is soaked in water and mill it in a dheki, the traditional rice milling machine. The taste of the flour ground in a dheki is many times better than the one ground in a rice mill.
Sift the flour and fry it in an iron cauldron (Don't add oil and keep in mind not to burn the flour).
Mix warm water to the flour and knead enough to prepare a tender dough.
Steam lentils and add spices, ginger, mustard oil and salt to it.
Make round dumplings out of the dough. Bore a hole, put the mixture of lentils and spice and flatten it with the palms at the middle and leave both the ends protruding out.
Steam the dumplings over a clay pot of boiling water.
Serve the steamed bagiya with chutney or vegetable curry.

7. Sidhara

Sidhara Cakes. Image via author courtesy Voice of The Tharus blog

Sidhara cakes. Image via author courtesy Voice of The Tharus blog

Sidhara is prepared from taro stem, turmeric, and dried fish. The aroma is pungent and the taste bitter, but still it is one of the delicacies eaten by the Terai dwellers especially indigenous peoples like the Tharus, Danuwars, Musahars and others.

The blog Voice of Tharus details the cooking of Sidhara:

Gather the Dedhna and Ponthi varieties of fish. Both the varieties are found in abundance in the paddy fields and public water sources.
Dry the fishes on sun. It will take few days to dry perfectly.
Gather Kachu (taro – Colocasia) stems and cut them into small pieces. Wash them thoroughly.
Grind or mill the dried fishes, together with the colocasia stem and turmeric, and make small cakes.
Leave the cakes to dry on the sun for 10-15 days and after that it store in a dry place for future use. Your sidhara is then ready to cook and eat.
To cook the sidhara, crumple and break the cakes into tiny crumbs. Fry the pieces of sidhara in mustard oil together with onion, green chillies, radish and spices. Add water and salt to taste.
Garnish the dish with green coriander leaves and serve with puffed and beaten rice.

February 25 2014

VIDEO: 7 Months Pregnant – And Still Working the Fields

This video report by Sonia Narang for The World originally appeared on PRI.org on February 23, 2014 and is republished as part of a content sharing agreement.

Januka Rasaeli lives in a rural village in Nepal, where women do strenuous chores all day long. Heavily pregnant, she worries her work will put her baby at risk.

In recent years, Nepal has made a big push to improve the health of pregnant women, and the country has seen a drop in the number of women dying during childbirth. Yet expectant mothers often do backbreaking work that can harm their health and that of their unborn children. As she toils all day, Januka Rasaeli, 28, shares her hopes and fears.

This story is part of PRI's The Ninth Month series, a journey through pregnancy and childbirth, across cultures and continents. Join the Ninth Month community on Facebook to share stories about childbirth where you live. Twitter hashtag #ninthmonth

February 17 2014

Nepal Airlines Plane Crashes Killing All 18 On Board

Image from Wikimedia Commons by Wolfgang Soshin Drechsler. CC BY-SA 3.0

A De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter of Nepal Airlines, similar to the aircraft involved in the accident. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Wolfgang Soshin Drechsler. CC BY-SA 3.0

An ill-fated Twin Otter plane crashed on 16 February 2014 killing all 18 on board in the forests of Masine in mid-western Nepal.

The wreckage of the state-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation plane which went missing after 1 p.m. Nepal Standard Time (NST) on Sunday and was found on Monday morning by local youths who had been there to play with the snow, reports Nepali online newspaper Setopati. The aircraft may have hit a mountain, which caused the crash.

Medico, a medical doctor from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), tweeted:

Sad news. What had to happen, got to know the same. All 18 aboard the Nepal Airlines Corporation plane died.

Journalist Bhabasagar Ghimire tweeted an earlier picture of the plane:

On 24 April 2010 the plane was to ferry a patient to Nepalgunj from Jumla airport.

The plane was 43 years old and was carrying 15 passengers and 3 crew members, blog Mysansar reported. Among them were a Danish national and a child. The aeroplane was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2014.

Rajan Bhattarai from Germany tweeted:

The weather throughout the country was very bad on the day the plane crashed:

The ones who permitted to fly the plane in such weather should be jailed.

Although being old, the plane had had only one incident of slipping on the runway of Jumla airport on 25 June 1992. The plane was also hijacked by Congress workers 40 years ago to loot the 30 lakhs of Indian rupees (about 4,800 US dollars) that the plane was carrying, reported Mysansar.

The Nepalese aviation industry has seen a huge number of accidents in the recent years, with two fatal plane crashes each year from 2010 to 2012. The European Union has banned all airlines from Nepal to fly into the 28 European nations.

Social media was awash with the news about the crash and condolence messages. Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai tweeted:

Pyasi tweeted:

[They say] a lot of courage is needed to scale Mount Everest. Seems thousand times more courage is needed to travel in a Nepali plane.

Indeed, the air journeys in Nepali skies seem more dangerous with the recent air accidents.

November 19 2013

PHOTOS: Voters Turn Out in Droves for Nepal's Constituent Assembly Elections

Voters queuing outside a polling station in Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo by anuj arora, copyright  Demotix (19/11/2013)

Voters queuing outside a polling station in Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo by anuj arora. Copyright Demotix (19/11/2013)

Nepal went to the polls today, November 19, 2013, to vote for a second Constituent Assembly, which will be charged with writing the constitution for the nation's governance.

Despite reports of sporadic incidents of violence and concerted efforts by the dissident Communist Party of Nepal–Maoist (CPN-M) cadres throughout the country to disrupt the election process and implement their call for poll boycott (bandha) during the election period, voters in Nepal were enthusiastic and queued at polling centres in large numbers to cast their votes.

The administration, for its part, tried to ensure tight security on the election day. According to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nilkantha Uprety, the voter turnout was estimated to be a record 70 percent

Security personal patrolling Kathmandu city. Photo by  gagan_thapa thapa, copyright Demotix (19/11/2013)

Security personal patrolling Kathmandu city on election day in Nepal. Photo by gagan_thapa thapa. Copyright Demotix (19/11/2013)

Interestingly, there was a lot of participation by women voters, who turned out in large numbers to vote. Kashish Das Shrestha (@kashishds), a Kathmandu- and New York-based journalist, tweeted:

There was also a lot of enthusiasm among the elderly to cast their votes, many of them being septuagenarians and above. 110-year-old Dhan Kumari Gurung cast her vote in Sundaridanda polling centre of Kaski district.

From Lalitpur, Nepal, research scientist Sameer Mani Dixit (@sameermdixit) tweeted:

An elderly woman is assisted by her grandson as he carries from a voting centre after casting her vote in the second Constitution Assembly Election. Photo by Nabin Baral

An elderly woman being carried by her grandson from a voting centre after casting her vote in the second Constitution Assembly election. Photo by Nabin Baral. Copyright Demotix (19/11/2013)

Throughout the country, not only was the turnout at the polling centres encouraging, but people also expressed happiness in being able to vote and hoped that this election would deliver where the last one failed.

The first Constituent Assembly was formed in 2008, two years after a bloody decade-long civil war between the country's Maoists and government came to an end. Nepal's monarchy was abolished shortly afterward, but the assembly failed to write a constitution, and after four years it was dissolved, plunging the diverse country into political crisis. 

Nishchal Dhakal (@nishchaldhakal), a doctor based in Kathmandu, tweeted:

Sydney Based Nepalese Journalist Rishi Acharya (@rishiacharya) tweeted:

Encouraging number of female candidates

The fate of 6,128 candidates in the First Past the Post (FPTP) and around 10,700 Proportional Representative (PR) categories will be decided today. As reported by nepalvotes.com, 127 political parties are in the fray with 12,147,865 eligible voters. Out of the 6,128 FPTP candidates, 667 -or 10.88 percent- are female, and out of the 10,709 PR candidates, 5,291 candidates are female, reported setopati.com.

AFP Iraq Bureau Chief Prashant Rao (@prashantrao) tweeted an infographic on Nepal's voters: 

Confusing symbols

While voters were busy casting their precious votes, they were likely to get confused by the election symbols which are similar if not taken carefully, reported Nepaliheadlines.

Proportional representation ballot paper featuring more than 100 parties. Photo by anuj arora, copyright Demotix (19/11/2013)

Proportional representation ballot paper featuring more than 100 parties. Photo by anuj arora. Copyright Demotix (19/11/2013)

UCPN-Maoist's election symbol is a sickle and hammer inside a circle, while CPN-ML and CPN-United's symbols are sickle and a star, and sickle respectively. Likewise, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum's election symbol is two hands poised for a Namaste, while Nepal Sadbhawana Party's symbol is a hand and Nepal Shanti Chhetra Parishad's symbol is two hands clapping.

Rashtriya Prajatantra Party Nepal's symbol is a cow. However, Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party's symbol is oxen and the symbol of Janatantrik Terai Madhes Mukti Tigers is oxen with cart.

More confusing are the symbols of Nepal Loktantrik Samajwadi Dal, Janata Party Nepal, Terai Madhes Pahad Himal Ekata Party and Jana Unity Cooperative Party Nepal. They are a pen, a pen and an inkpot, a pencil, and a pen and a copy respectively.

Similar is the case of party symbols of Rashtrawadi Janata Party, Rashtriya Yatharthawadi Party Nepal, Nepal Samabeshi Party and Rashtrawadi Ekata Party. They are a bird, the national bird danfe, a parrot, and a pigeon.

Interesting candidates

While the political parties are competing with each other in the electoral constituencies, the candidates of Bibeksheel Party (Sensible Party) are in the fray along with the political bigwigs in the four major constituencies of Kathmandu. Interestingly, they have selected a dog (Kukur in Nepali) as their election symbol.

According to The Kathmandu Post, “all of the four candidates from Bibeksheel hail from impressive entrepreneurial and educational backgrounds”. It is a tech-savvy group that has been making wide use of social media to engage the people, especially youth. In the past, the Bibeksheel group has played active role in organizing popular social campaigns like Occupy Baluwatar (a peaceful protest movement calling on the Nepali state to better address the widespread problem of impunity and gender-based violence), Entrepreneurs for Nepal, Nepal Unites and Die Banda Die (to end the ‘bandh’ or shutdown culture in Nepal) etc.

For the elections, the one-year-old Bibeksheel party used many innovative campaigning techniques, smileys, rickshaws with flags and of course a lot of social media. There has been a lot of discussion about this group online, but it remains to be seen if these would have an actual impact on the voters and translated into votes.

Blogger Nepalikukur wrote in the online magazine La.Lit. that voting for the kukur (dog) symbol would be akin to registering a protest vote, but that it could also mark the beginning of a “genuine party of the people”.

Nepalis have given chances to Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist each to rule the country. However, none of them have been successful in satisfying the expectations of general public. This time round, the Nepalis hope to elect a stable government who can draft a constitution and lead the country to prosperity.

Now begins the wait for the winners and, more importantly, the constitution.

September 20 2011

Nepal: Bloggers Share Their Own Stories of Earthquake

On the Sunday evening of September 18, 2011, Nepal experienced a strong earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale. With an epicentre in the border region of Taplejung of Nepal and Sikkim of India, it affected Kathmandu, Pokhara, Dharan and other parts of Nepal. Some of the country's bloggers have shared their own stories, news and live events following the quake.

The Home Ministry in Nepal has reported 9 deaths and 24 serious injuries in the country at the time of writing. Three people were killed when the wall of the British Embassy in Nepal fell over them; the Embassy has released a press statement regretting the deaths and saying the embassy will continue to do everything possible to help the local community and Nepal. More than 150 houses were damaged all over the country.

People stand next to a collapsed wall, following the powerful earthquake which rattled Nepal. Image by Gagan Thapa, copyright Demotix (18/09/2011).

People stand next to a collapsed wall, following the powerful earthquake which rattled Nepal. Image by Gagan Thapa, copyright Demotix (18/09/2011).

Bloggers - some on the roads, some from their work places and some from home - wrote about their experiences (first-hand in most cases) on their blogs. Social media sites were alive with tweets and Facebook posts on the topic. Nepali Twitter users reported damages and injuries from several places. Phone lines were interrupted due to high call traffic.

Anil P. Ghimire [ne] from AakarPost shares his first experience while on roads of the earthquake in Kathmandu:

सम्भवत पहिलोपटक भुँइचालो को आभास गर्दै थियौँ । सडक को बिचमा उभिएको हुँदा यता र उता कुद्नुपर्ने कुनै जरुरी थिएन । याद आयो अरु केही नभएपनि ट्विट गरिहाल्नुपर्छ । मोवाइलमा ब्राउजर मा ट्विटर नै खुलिरहेको थियो, हतार हतार भुकम्प आएको कुरा ट्विट गरियो, आफू मुनि को जमिन हल्लिनै रहेजस्तो लागिरहेथ्यो । तर त्यो ट्विट प्रकाशित हुन सकेन, जिपीआरएस चलेन।

Possibly, this was the first time we were experiencing the earthquake. As we stood in middle of the road, it wasn’t necessary for us to run somewhere. Soon I remembered, I need to tweet if not anything. I hastily tried tweeting about the earthquake that I was experiencing from twitter on my phone’s browser. The ground was trembling but the tweet couldn’t be published as GPRS was no more available.

Initially the earthquake was reported to be of more than magnitude 6 with its epicenter in Sikkim, India and Kathmandu was reported to be 72 kilometers away (east) from the epicenter. It took more than half an hour to have reports on life injuries as phone services were interrupted due to the high number of calls.

Salokya from Mysansar [ne] shared his experience and facts based on initial reports of the incident:

म बसेको ठाउँमा केही समय हल्लिएर मानिसहरु सडकमा निस्किएका थिए। कम्प्युटर चलाइरहेको म पनि हतारहतार लुगा लगाएर तल झर्दासम्म भूकम्प जारी थियो। हल्लँदै गर्दा मोबाइल बिर्सेर फेरि मोबाइल लिएर सडकमा आउँदा धेरै मानिस बाहिर आइसकेका थिए। श्रीमतीले पनि भूकम्प हुँदै गर्दा फोन गरेर- म त मर्न लागेँ कि क्या हो, यही अन्तिम फोन होला भनेर गरेको भनिन्।

Some people had already escaped from the place I was after trembling for some time. The earthquake was still there when I managed to leave the computer I was using and escape with some clothes on. I returned again to grab my phone and came back to streets to join several others that had escaped from their buildings. My wife rang me then to express her fears of dying and mentioned if this was her last call.
People in Kathmandu rush into the open space of New Road after an earthquake jolted the city. Image by Sunil Sharma, copyright Demotix (18/09/2011).

People in Kathmandu rush into the open space of New Road after an earthquake jolted the city. Image by Sunil Sharma, copyright Demotix (18/09/2011).

Another Nepali Blogger Dinesh Wagle on his journal shares his experience of the earthquake while at work place:

As I was ducking under a table on the 3rd floor of my 6-storey office building, the images humanitarian catastrophe of Haiti earthquake (and those in Pakistan and China) came to my mind. And I also thought about major neighborhoods of Kathmandu- especially Ason area. I thought of making a call to her, tried in fact, AND even posting a tweet as I was experiencing the tremor!

Under the title ‘sikkim quakes and we quiver‘ another blogger Nepali Keti writes:

but, first a bit on today’s event: an earthquake that hit sikkim and sent spine-chilling ripples right to the apple of nepal’s eye (that’d be kathmandu) is something i am little prepared to blog about because i know so little about natural disasters. but, as with every kathmanduite i too have my story.

The Nepal Government has announced a provision of Rs 25,000 immediately to the families of the earthquake victims. Nepal remains an earthquake prone country and the unmanaged urbanisation and lack of proper preparation for calamities like earthquake pose a severe threat to lives and properties in the country.

July 15 2011

Nepal: Budget 2011/12

Nepal Blogs provides a roundup of reactions of Nepali Twitter users on Nepal’s budget for fiscal year 2011/12 which was presented in the parliament today.

August 06 2010

Nepal: Bloggers Meet Online

By Rezwan

Pradeep Kumar Singh informs that Dautari, a Nepali bloggers group is organizing an online meetup for Nepali bloggers on Saturday, the 7th of August, 2010.

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